To The Brim My Heart Was Full

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Lake District.jpg

Do you remember learning about William Wordsworth in your high school English class? He was a big deal among the British Romantic poets, lived late 18th/early 19th century, was Britain’s poet laureate for a spell, and was the kind of poet that other poets write poems about. (By the way, in case you were wondering, this is what an English major ends up doing for a living—teaching yoga, writing about it ad nauseam, and making endless references to poetry and poets and how they are all basically pointing to the same thing—presence.)

So, as a child, Wordsworth and his siblings were basically orphaned. Though relatives became reluctant guardians, from an early age William had enormous pressure on him to choose a respectable career which would enable him to move out and support himself and his sister, Dorothy. William was incredibly close to Dorothy, who was of a social class that simply wouldn’t allow her to work.
 

His guardians expected William to become a vicar for the Church of England, a respectable career, but one for which Wordsworth had no love. William’s love was poetry, but to his guardians, poetry was the career-equivalent of homelessness.

As a young man, one early-summer’s morning, Wordsworth was walking across the meadows and heathlands toward his home at Hawkshead, no doubt burdened by the tension between following his passion of poetry and taking a job doing what others expected him to do.

As he walked, the sun began to rise and light up his senses with a splendor of the majestic landscape, also brightening and dissolving his dark and heavy worries. Soon, he was brimming with joy, drunk with the dawning light on the meadows, the dew and vapors on the heath, and a vision of the “sea laughing at a distance.” He speaks to this magical moment in perhaps his finest and most enduring poem, Prelude, in which he says,

     Ah! need I say, dear Friend! that to the brim
     My heart was full . . .

And then, with his heart brimming, with his senses thrumming, the dawning light of the morning began to work a miracle on his heart by illuminating it to the sure and deep knowing of its gift for the world as a poet. It’s as if God, the Cosmos, or Creation—whatever—spoke and made promises to him that he must follow poetry, must offer it as a gift to the world, and that it would all work out.

Check it out. In the same poem he says,

     . . . I made no vows, but vows
     Were then made for me; bond unknown to me
     Was given, that I should be, else sinning greatly,
     A dedicated Spirit. On I walked
     In thankful blessedness, which yet survives.

 

Boom! Drop the mic. Walk off stage.

 

drop the mic.gif

And from that moment forward, with such clarity, joy, and peace in his heart, Wiliam never doubted his purpose again.

And speaking of the Church, with this sure knowledge of his heart’s gift to the world as a poet, Wordsworth felt he would be sinning greatly against an even higher power than the Church if he didn’t honor the vow which was so clearly made to his heart.

Spoiler: being a poet worked out great for Wordsworth. Actually, more than great because Wordsworth devoted himself to poetry and set up a house for himself and his sister where they could immerse themselves in the craft of poetry. Dorothy was also a poet and this setup gave her the freedom to write. William and Dorothy were a poetry tour de force as they lived a life of all things poetry. They would discuss, analyze, and workshop poems and upon completion, Dorothy would pen them in her immaculate handwriting.

Perhaps most importantly to William, his sister Dorothy was his purest love, his North Star, and his muse. If he would have relented to a career in the Church, he would have been exiled from his two loves, Dorothy and poetry.

 

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Ultimately, my point here is that with presence you too can hear (or have heard) the vows that the world is making to your heart about your gift to the world. It may not be as public or as grandiose as William Wordsworth’s but regardless, is nonetheless just as important, the world needs it just as much, and it is your own private marriage to the world.

I always say that poets are yogis with a pen, or yogis are poets with poses. In both disciplines, one comes to know themselves, their True Nature, by practicing regular and abiding presence. Whether poet or plumber, it takes a fierce presence in conversation with that thing that is larger than all of us, but to which all play an integral part, in order to do any good work in this world.
 

This week, I invite you to practice listening. Go to a yoga class. Sit and meditate. Go on a walk and leave your phone at home. Open up to creation by drinking in your senses, a profound and delicious way of practicing presence. Listen and hear the world speak to your heart. Allow your heart to speak to your mind.

I also invite you to join me for my next Yoga Nidra course: Sourcing Your Heart’s Gift, a supportive practice that regularly takes you deep inside to hear and develop your heart’s gift for the world.

This is the last week to register!

Namaste,

Scott


Sourcing Your Heart's Gift: an online meditation and yoga course designed to help you to dive deep into your heart to discover and develop your purpose and courageously share it with the world.

February 12–March 25 2018

The Cosmic Taco

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The Cosmic Taco
Rotten Tomatoes.jpg

2017 is making its final bows while some of us are throwing roses and others are throwing rotten tomatoes. And some of us are putting in our orders for our Cosmic Tacos. Stay with me . . .

Regardless of what you’re throwing as 2017 leaves the stage, it’s an important time to start thinking about 2018. Intentions and vision for what's to come really make a powerful difference for the direction of our lives. During the last week of the year, this is the time to quiet and clear our minds and get really clear about what we want.

The Cosmic Taco

Several years ago, I had to leave the place I was living and find a new place. I was dragging my feet, procrastinating and just couldn’t find anything I wanted or liked or would work for me. It dawned on me that I wasn’t even really sure what I was looking for, what I really wanted. So, I sat down, and literally in 2 minutes, I listed about 15 things on a piece of paper that I wanted in a new place to live, down to the amenities, price, location, and even the era of design and construction for the building.

The. Next. Day. I found the exact place I’d envisioned which met every single one of the criteria I was hoping for. It taught me that it really pays to know what you’re looking for. I told this story to a friend who said jokingly that I have such a way with fate that if I ordered a taco to the Universe and held out my hand, one would magically drop from the cosmos.

Cosmic Taco.jpg

An idea was born: The Cosmic Taco. Essentially, the gist is that the Universe doesn’t know what you want on you taco unless you put in your order, so go ahead and get specific.

Here’s your homework:

Spend the next week, just clearing your mind. Do a some meditation, take some yoga classes, listen to some Yoga Nidra. Then on or before December 31st, sit down and put in you order for your Cosmic Taco. In other words, how do you want your life to look? Be very specific. Like one of my mentors says, shoot for the stars but keep one foot grounded in reality. Do it. What do you want your relationships to look like, your finances, your drives and goals? Just putting it out there will start a new world of magic to begin to open up to you. I promise.

Then, on January 1, start to do whatever goals you set for yourself. You’ll be surprised at how easy this all comes, especially if you’ve spent the time to open yourself to mindfulness through meditation and yoga. When your highest self is driving, you find that everything flows with the Universe much easier. Essentially they are one and the same.

I’d love to hear how it goes. Comment below or email me at scott@scottmooreyoga.com for questions or help on this.

Happy end of 2017, my friends.



 

Guided Meditations for Sleep: It's Finally Here!

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Guided Meditations for Sleep



I’ve been teaching yoga and meditation for more than 15 years and one of the needs I hear most from my students is the need for better sleep. I hear that need literally by the many snores in savasana. So many of you have asked me to put something like this together and I'm so happy to tell you that finally, it's here!

As a culture that values productivity above almost everything else, the one things we seem to sacrifice most is our need for good sleep.

I don't have to tell you that good sleep promotes wellness in body, mind, and spirit, and helps you to be alert, productive, and fulfill your purpose for being on the planet. So much is riding on your ability for good sleep, so let’s learn how to do it well.

This week, I've shared with you the ways that meditation helps us to quiet our minds to get that good sleep we really need. Now, the theory is over and it's time to put this into action.

I've incorporated my 15+ years of experience teaching meditation and yoga, and I've put a lot of time and energy, into creating Guided Meditations for Sleep™. My intention with this product is to help people be at their best because they have learned the yoga of how to get really, really, solid sleep. 

Guided Meditations for Sleep™ is a complete system designed to promote deep, nourishing, and peaceful sleep. It incorporates body, mind, and spirit to relax the nervous system, still the body, and quiet the mind, to train yourself to get excellent sleep. It also gives you productive ways to help you get back to sleep in case you're someone who wakes up a lot during the night. 

Check out everything contained in Guided Meditations for Sleep:

  • Welcome Letter & How To Use This PDF
  • 5 Guided Meditations for Sleep audio recordings
  • Body Scan with Deep Relaxation (31:15)
  • Body Scan with Deep Relaxation with background music (31:15)
  • Dream imagery Relaxation (28:25)
  • Dream Imagery Relaxation with background music (28:25)
  • Sanctuary Practice (10:21) Awesome!
  • Pre-sleep Breathing Techniques audio recording (10:02)
  • Pre-sleep Gentle Yoga Stretches PDF
  • Pre-sleep General Guidelines for Good Sleep PDF
  • Pre-sleep Checklist PDF
  • Why Mindfulness Helps You Sleep PDF
  • Tech Tips PDF

Check out what people are saying about Guided Meditations for Sleep™

Check out what people are saying about Guided Meditations for Sleep™:

"Best sleep I've had in weeks!"~ Nan

"Scott's calming voice helped me to first focus, then relax and meditate. The next thing I knew I woke up, having drifted off." ~Chris

"Your voice was perfect. It was calm, relaxing and inviting me to relax and get myself ready for sleep.  When I finished the tape I immediately fell asleep.  When I woke up I felt like I had experienced a deep sleep." ~Carol

"These relaxation visualizations really work! I can sleep much better now." ~Steve

"Scott has the ability to nurture and empower at once, connecting you with your own heart to find that which you need the most. Scott is a humble loving guide." ~Marit

And for everyone who buys Guided Meditations for Sleep™ this weekend, I'm including a bonus recording of original music, the profoundly relaxing Clarinet Lullaby with Ocean Soundscape (30 minutes.) You're going to love this! 

You might find other recordings out there that use meditation to help you sleep but nothing is as effective, extensive, and enjoyable as Guided Meditations for Sleep™. In fact, you’ll most likely never know what is in the last several minutes of each recording because you won’t be able to stay awake.

Plus, Guided Meditations for Sleep™ is a digital download so you will get it even faster than Amazon Prime! You'll be able to download it immediately and use it tonight for an incredible night's sleep! 

I want to make this affordable so I'm only charging,


$29.


Guided Meditations for Sleep™ is second only to hiring me to personally come and tuck you in...now there's an idea. 

I absolutely loved putting this together and I hope you love it too. I really wanted to spend the time and effort to make this great because I understand how important it is and wanted to give it my best.

So, you can buy a different guided meditation CD online for $15, or go to iTunes and download something for cheap. Hell, you can even go to YouTube and watch a video for free. But what I've created, I feel, is something special which is hugely valuable and I designed it with YOU in mind. You'll have this in your digital library for years to come. 

There's so much content here that I think you'll agree that is well worth the price.

Plus, I stand behind my work so if you're not completely satisfied with it, I'll refund your money, no questions.

You're going to want to check out these samples (click below) and buy Guided Meditations for Sleep™ today.

Remember that if you buy it this weekend, you'll get the mellifluous sounds of Clarinet Lullaby with Ocean Soundscape (30 minutes).

Namaste and nighty-night,



Scott
Ommmzzzzzz

You'll love the visualizations, the detailed and easy-to-follow pre-sleep breathing practices and yoga poses, as well as essential sleep information to cultivate your stellar sleep habits. This is so much more than just a recording.

This system even guides you through the process of creating your optimal sleeping environment, then you slip into bed and listen to me lull you to sleep. It's so nice!

One thing I've learned in my many years of teaching is that everyone has a beautiful life to live and that everyone's pathway to wholeness is different. Nobody knows what you need better than you. So I've built Guided Meditations for Sleep™ to work with all kinds of brains: the analytical, visual, musical, instructional, etc. Surely there's something in here for you. 
 


Guided Meditations for Sleep

 
 

Take Me To The River: Yoga Nidra Meets + River Writing Makes Dream and Write

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Yoga Nidra

I have a notebook full of words I will only read once.

It's dedicated to my River Writing practice. River Writing is a beautifully generative writing group that my good friend, Nan Seymour, hosts. She does so in intimate groups around a warm, wooden table, at her writing studio, in Salt Lake City.

I teach Yoga Nidra, a very relaxing form of guided meditation. Nan has been as profoundly affected by my Yoga Nidra as I have been by her River Writing. So we decided to combine the two practices and call it Dream and Write. 

The purpose is to create a writing practice of inviting words to flow, unobstructed from a river of inner-narrative. Paired together, this practice creates a unique mindfulness writing experience that taps profound Awareness for clarity and flow of writing. 

Over the past two years, Nan and Scott have offered several Dream and Write workshop, classes, and retreats. The intention of Dream and Write is to use mindfulness, poetry, and gentle encouragement to source the words that are within you in. We insist on a judgement-free, non-editing, and mutually supportive environment.

River Writing

Nan's true gift is creating a safe and inviting space to write. She nurtures a judgement-free environment, both from other writers but most especially from that harshest of critics, you.

She opens a session, sets the guidelines, and then reads a prompt to inspire or begin your writing ideas. Then, she starts a timer as asks you to write without stopping for 12 minutes. 

Yoga Nidra

Your job is to keep your pen moving across your paper the entire time without edits, whether you're gushing words or simply repeating, "I don't know what to write. I don't know what to write. I don't know what to write," just to keep the pen moving. And if ever you feel really stuck, there's a life-saving phrase you  can write, "What I really want to say is . . .," and magically the words start to flow again. More often than not, it's astounding what River Writing coaxes onto the page.

After the timer has rung, you're encouraged, but not forced, to read to the group what's on your page, without qualifiers, without apology. No one is allowed to offer any critique or praise to your work other than a simple, "Thank you." We are simple witnesses to ourselves and each other, something which is much more abiding than praise.

Through River Writing, I've written some incredibly profound words, words that I didn't know were inside of me. This process has also helped me to generate brilliant ideas for my work that have literally changed my career. I owe it to the genius of River Writing and Nan's  warmth and skill of facilitation.

 

Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra

I'm passionate about Yoga Nidra because simply put, it's a revelation. It's also incredibly relaxing. I love it because through Yoga Nidra, I've learned more about myself and the Universe than any other practice.

Yoga Nidra is simple: You lie down, close your eyes, relax, and listen to me guide you toward acute Awareness,  of yourself and everything around you. That's it. It's actually quite a bit more sophisticated than it sounds but the results can't be quantified. I'm telling you, after the clarity you gain through Yoga Nidra, your whole life feels like it makes sense. After, you feel energized and alert, like you took a satisfying nap while learning the meaning of the Universe. I'm not over selling this.

But I'm rambling, what I really want to say is . . . Since the birth of Dream and Write, we have hosted a suite of workshops and two multi-day Dream and Write retreats and the results have been nothing less than beautiful and inspiring.

Sadly, I moved 2,600 miles away from Nan and that warm, wood writing table to NYC. But thanks to the internet, we are closer than we appear.

What I really want to say is it would be our honor to invite you to experience our first ever Virtual Dream and Write Workshop, happening in YOUR living room, on YOUR computer, smartphone, or tablet, on December 2nd 2017.

This will be a unique opportunity to gather with people all over the country and world to meditate, write, and share in real time. Every Dream and Write have been touching, inspiring, and affirming. I have every confidence that this will be likewise. And, because on this internet meeting space we'll only see your upper half, you don't even have to wear pants!

Also, get this: Nan discovered a truly brilliant and accomplished poet named Anders Carlson-Wee who agreed to join us as our poet-in-residence for our Dream and Write Retreat. Anders is a very gifted but down-to-earth poet who read several of his poems as prompts for our writing and taught us about poetry and its embodiment.

Well, Anders has also agreed to attend our Virtual Dream and Write Workshop to share with us some of his sublime poetry as fodder for our own creative juices to flow. Anders Carlson-Wee's poetry, from his own mouth, in real time. Damn, you can't get better than this! Run don't walk, friends. (Read his poem Dynamite)

Even if you don't consider yourself a writer, there are words or a stories inside of you that need to get out. This workshop is the opportunity to do free those words in a supportive and nurturing environment with kind and experienced facilitators.

Oh, did I mention it's fun?

Please join us for this truly unique workshop.

We only have 20 spots available.

When: Saturday, December 2nd 2017 from 12-3 pm ET, 11 am-2 pm CT, 10 am-1 pm MT, 9am-12pm PT. (There will be pee breaks)

Where: Your house, via the internet

Price: $57

Yoga Nidra
 
Yoga Nidra
 

Dynamite

Anders Carlson-Wee

Anders Carlson-Wee

by Anders Carlson-Wee

 

My brother hits me hard with a stick
so I whip a choke-chain

across his face. We’re playing
a game called Dynamite

where everything you throw
is a stick of dynamite,

unless it’s pine. Pine sticks
are rifles and pinecones are grenades,

but everything else is dynamite.
I run down the driveway

and back behind the garage
where we keep the leopard frogs

in buckets of water
with logs and rock islands.

When he comes around the corner
the blood is pouring

out of his nose and down his neck
and he has a hammer in his hand.

I pick up his favorite frog
and say If you come any closer

I’ll squeeze. He tells me I won’t.
He starts coming closer.

I say a hammer isn’t dynamite.
He reminds me that everything is dynamite.

 

“Dynamite” originally appeared in Ninth Letter

The Gayatri Mantra: A Love Supreme

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The Gayatri Mantra

Oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ

tát savitúr váreṇ(i)yaṃ

bhárgo devásya dhīmahi

dhíyo yó naḥ pracodáyāt

Watch a short video about understanding the Gayatri Mantra by looking at John Coltrane’s masterpiece, ALove Supreme.

Translation:

Everything on the Earth and in the sky and in between is arising from one effulgent source. If my thoughts, words, and deeds reflected a complete understanding of this, I would be the peace I am seeking in this moment.


The Gayatri Mantra: A Love Supreme

I've been working on understanding the The Gayatri Mantra for several years. It's one of the oldest mantras in existence, more than 12 thousand years old, and comes from the Rigveda, an ancient Sanskrit text containing hymns and mantras that are mythological and poetic accounts of the origin of the world.

I struggle to understand it because it suggests that when I’m feeling freaked out by something, I already have peace or am the peace that I feel I lack. Likewise, this mantra suggests that somehow through one Source, we are everything else. And to any mind that is caught up in limited a conception of Self, this is hard to understand at best and ridiculous at worst.

Join me for an unforgettable yoga retreat along the Amalfi Coast Italy May 26-June 2 2018

One experience I had that helped me to understand this mantra a little better happened several years ago while I was on an early-morning run in Hawaii. Because my body was used to a different time zone, I was up and running early while most of everybody else was sleeping. On that beautiful morning, I ran along a paved trail that contours the ocean and stretched for miles.


All the elements were harmonized to make a perfect storm of physical, mental, and spiritual bliss. My mind was clear, the weather, temperature, altitude and humidity were all perfect. As I ran, my mind opened up to incredible clarity. In this clarity, I began processing some of the jazz improve theory that my sax teacher had been teaching me, specifically regarding works by John Coltrane. My feet tapped along the trail and my lungs bellowed the humid ocean-air while my mind thought about scales, intervals, harmonics, chords, and all of the underlying structure of jazz.

My sax teacher tells me that if I want to find those notes coming out of my horn, I have to not only feel them in my soul, but I also gotta know what is possible to feel and that takes a little head work. With all this mental clarity some fairly complex music theory simply started to make sense to me. Deeper musical ideas began to percolate to my mental surface causing new lights to go on. I was figuring it out and it was happening without any teacher or even the reference of my sax or even music paper.

I was amazed to realize that somehow, a lot of this understanding was already in there. Astounded by these musical revelations, an immense thought dawned upon me: even if it’s waaaay down there, there is a John Coltrane in me somewhere.

The perfect run with all the harmony of elements connected me in some way to Source which led me somehow to understand Coltrane a little better. If I truly understood the connection of all things, if I were truly tapped into Source like the Gayatri Mantra suggests, I’d be able to access that same power, soul, and knowledge that John Coltrane did. Me! John Coltrane! Ultimately, I'd see that I'm no different than John Coltrane.

Coltrane was connected to Source. He demonstrates this plainly in his most spiritual work, some say the most spiritual of all of jazz, his album called A Love Supreme. In it he makes circles both in the arc of the sound in music as well as in its form; this chord and this phrase makes a logical, mathematical, and aurally pleasing transition to the next, and the next until the formula causes it to arrive back to where it started.

Just as you might hear Brahman priests chanting the Gayatri Mantra from the Rigveda, in this recording you hear these priests of jazz chant, “A Love Supreme” repeatedly in the background evoking Source.

In certain disciplines initiates get a new name. In yoga your name might become Yogananda, or Ram Das. Jazz is no different. It might be Trane or Bird or Fathead. I believe that another name for God, like God's own moniker, could be, A Love Supreme. I think God uses it as a social handle, or something.

In part, Coltrane’s message was that everything is inscribed within A Love Supreme. A Love Supreme is The Effulgent Source mentioned in the Gayatri Mantra and to fully comprehend this Source means to understand everything, including peace, including jazz, including yourself. This is enlightenment and whether your path there incorporated practicing either poses or jazz theory or anything else, you still end up at the same place.

Alice Coltrane, J.C.’s wife at the time, said that one day Trane locked himself in the attic and didn’t come down for three days. He spent the entire time meditating (understand that Coltrane meditated with his horn in his mouth) and when he came down, I imagine that it was like Moses coming down from the mountain after talking to God, he looked at his wife and said, “I’ve got it!” A few days later he was in the studio with a few hand-picked musicians to record A Love Supreme, which quickly became one of the greatest pieces of music ever conceived.

We are still chanting the Gayatri Mantra 12 thousand years later. I hope people are chanting A Love Supreme, or at lease spinning the record, 12 thousand years from now.

Understanding, even theoretically, that knowing Source means to know everything, doesn’t discount the hours, weeks, years, and lifetimes of work and practice necessary to get there, but still the idea is provocative that our work isn’t to build or gain anything new, rather to dismantle that which prevents us from seeing what’s already there.

What we practice in yoga is paying attention and we use breath, poses, and mediation to open our eyes and to take off the bandages to reveal what’s underneath.

Another reference to understanding this universal Source comes from the story about the day Zen came to be. It is said that long ago an assembly gathered to hear the Buddha’s Dharma talk. Instead of a discourse, The Buddha simply held up a flower saying nothing. He stayed like that for a long time much to the confusion of most everyone.

Only the sage Mahakashyapa understood, and noted it with a wry smile. With his flower, the Buddha was saying that which could not be spoken by words. He was showing the assembly that Being or Reality had no boundaries and was found in everything, including a flower, and to even try to define Being or Reality by words would create a boundary for something that had none. Anything defined would have been a contradiction yet at the same time he was revealing that which was everywhere, if your understanding would allow you to see.

“If my thoughts words and deeds reflected a complete understanding of this unity,” . . . I would realize that I’m no different than this flower, or my sax, my music, or you, and I would understand that peace is already within me. And yet to understand this, like myriad myths throughout history also suggest, it might take me traveling the entire world to realize that what I was searching for was at home all along, locked within the vault of my heart.

I invite you to practice understanding the Gayatri Mantra better and practice unraveling anything within yourself that would prevent the world from seeing your own manifestation of the Effulgent Source, your True Nature, your Love Supreme.

And since it is said that Visvamitra was the one who gave us the Gayatri Mantra, we’ll work on exploring Reality through Visvamitrasana. Speaking of “getting Real,” once I start working on my inflexible hamstrings, something necessary for that pose, things get real, really fast.

Might I suggest listening to A Love Supreme this week.

 

Headaches Stink!

Do you ever get headaches? Do you get regular headaches and not even know why? Did you know that headaches can sometimes be the result of unconscious tension in your hips, back, neck and shoulders?

Don't hate me, but I'm the kind of guy who almost never gets headaches. Well, not unless there's something really wrong with me. So when I do get a headache, it's an automatic red flag and I pay close attention to what's going on with me. Even having a headache is an opportunity for mindfulness.

There are a bunch of reasons for headaches, like dehydration, sinus congestions, and viruses. But like I said, sometimes, headaches are caused by unconscious tension, especially if your headaches are chronic.

Here are a few of my favorite techniques to remedy a headache. I use these myself and teach them to my students. 

First, check in and listen. Try hearing your headache as a message from your body. Close your eyes and give yourself a few slow rounds of deep ujjayi breaths. This technique is often powerful enough to remedy a headache all by itself because of the ujjayi breath's ability to calm the nervous system. 

As your breathe, bring your attention directly to your headache and see what you can learn from it. Where exactly do you feel it? What is the quality of your headache. What are the emotions, thoughts, or sensations which correspond to your headache? If your headache were a message, what might it be? 

And then try these three yoga poses to see if they help your headache.

Quick info before you do any yoga poses: remember that you are aiming for quality over quantity. You don’t get better results by doing a pose more intensely. Keep your stretches at the quality of I call “comfortably intense.” Aim for duration and feeling a solid, sustained stretch rather than a quick fix.  And always with every yoga pose maintain your ujjayi breaths.


Pose #1

Eagle Arms.jpg

Eagle Arms: to stretch upper-trapezius, lateral deltoids, triceps

This posture stretches a few of the most pernicious muscles when it comes to tension headaches. The upper-traps, the big muscles right at the top of your shoulders which connect to your head, are particularly responsible for causing tension headaches. When these muscles get tight, they pull on the tension balance of your upper skeleton as well as the muscles in your neck and scalp resulting in headaches. These muscles, as well as the lateral deltoids and triceps, tighten if you are prone to doing repetitive actions with hands and arms such as typing on a keyboard, driving, or texting (hopefully not all at the same time. I LOVE this pose.

Try wrapping your arms and then lifting your elbows slightly above your shoulders. Do this with your deep ujjayi breaths flowing. I like to slowly turn my head side to side. Oh, and makesure you’re not clenching your jaw. Sometimes when I'm trying to release tension in my body, I clench because I'm pushing too hard and this is an unconscious tension response.

Try this pose for 10 breaths on each side.


Pose #2

side neck stretch.jpg

Side Neck Stretch: to stretch the scalenes and sternocleidomastoid (SCM)

Other muscles that sometimes contribute to headaches are the SCMs and the scalenes. These muscles run along the sides of your neck.

To stretch these muscles, put your left hand on your head and tilt your left ear toward your left shoulder. Reach your right arm toward the floor but several inches away from your hip so that your middle finger almost touches the floor but not quite. It's like you're trying to get your right jaw and right fingertips as far away from each other as possible.

Do your ujjayi breathing.

Visualize your breath moving down into your fingertips and releasing any tension that exists from your head to your fingers. I'll visualize my tension dripping out my fingers like drops of water and pooling onto the floor.

Again, don't clench your jaw.


Pose #3

Seated Twist: to stretch the paraspinal and piriformis

ardha matsyandrasana.jpg

Sometimes the pain you feel in your head originate from a place entirely different than your head, like your back or even your hips. The paraspinal muscles are the vertical  muscles that run along either side of your spine and the piriformis muscle run deep under your glutes and connect your legs to your sacrum. Again, when either of these muscles are tight, they add to an imbalance in the skeletal tension and can radiate tension into your head. Plus, since your spine houses our spinal chord, the primary conduit for information moving via the nerves to the brain, by gently twisting the spine, you wring out our nervous system. Twists are great to release tension!

Sit down and cross one leg, bent at the knee, over the other leg, also bent at the knee. Bring opposite elbow across opposite leg. Sit up tall with your spine erect and buttocks grounded firmly on the floor. If one of your buttocks lifts, try extending your bottom leg straight. As you initiate the posture, breath in deeply and sit tall. As you exhale, gently twist to a comfortable level. Hold each side for 10-15 long breaths.


If you get headaches, try first checking in, listening to your body, and doing a few rounds of ujjayi breath. Then bust out these three poses and see if they help. If you do them regularly, you'll most likely find that your headaches will come less frequently and will be less severe when they do.

And remember, sometimes your headache is trying to tell you something so practice listening. 

Do you get headaches? Use the comment section to tell me what you do to help remedy headaches?